Learning how to catch spawning Bass is something every Bass angler should figure out. In this post you find everything you need from baits, gear, to finding Bass and how to catch them on beds.
How to Catch Spawning Bass
When you start Bass fishing you hear about two seasons where the fishing is at it’s best. The fall time and the spawn. The spawn is kind of like the Super Bowl for Bass anglers. Most anglers have been stuck inside all winter and chomping at the bit to get out and catch some fish. So by the time Spring time rolls around it’s like race cars at the starting line.
What is The Bass Spawn
The Bass Spawn is when is female Bass lay their eggs and male Bass fertilize them. It’s essentially their mating season. During this time the males will swim to the shallows and make beds on hard bottoms by clearing an area with their tails. They will keep doing this until a female comes along and lays eggs. The male will then fertilize the laid eggs and protect them until they hatch and and can swim away to protect themselves.
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When is the Bass Spawning Season
The spawn happens in the Spring, but it varies across the US. While it may vary year to year it is very predictable if you pay attention to the weather. It’s based more on water conditions than a specific date or time. The spawn starts when water temperature reaches between 55-65 degrees. That is when Bass start to transition from their deeper winter areas into more shallow waters. This is known as the pre-spawn and normally happens early Spring.
See also: Early Spring Bass Lures
During this time Bass are feeding heavily and preparing for the spawn. The spawn is when females lay their eggs and males fertilize and protect them. The transition period when male Bass finally leave the nest or beds is known as the post-spawn. This happens when the newly born Bass are old enough to swim and protect themselves.
What is a Bass Bed
A Bass bed or nest is cleared area or depression where female bass will lay their eggs. A male Bass known as a “Buck Bass” will travel into shallow warmer water and start to fan away debris in a hard bottom. They do this by swimming in a tight circle and use their fins to brush sand and debris away. A sign that a Bass is building a bed is a raw and slightly bloody tail from brushing sand, mud, or pea gravel away.
What do Bass Beds Look Like
Bass beds look like light-colored plates. They are usually between 2-3 ft in diameter and and can be found anywhere between 1ft to 4 ft of water depending on your body of water. In extreme cases they will make beds as shallow as a 10 inches of water to as deep as 12 ft. of water.
How to Find Bass Beds
Finding Bass beds is actually pretty easy in most conditions, but you will need one essential piece of gear, a good pair of polarized lenses. Polarized lenses make it easy for you to see through the water by cutting the glare from the sun. If there is any current in the water light will reflect up and make it difficult to see a Bass bed.
As long as there is some level of water clarity you can find Bass beds in the shallows. All you need to do is look for two things. The first are depressions in the ground that look like tan or light colored dinner plates. These will look pretty obvious once you spot your first one. The second thing is a Bass on the bed. If you sit there long enough you will see either a big female Bass on the bed or a male Bass swimming around protecting the bed.
Bedding Bass Behavior
Now Bass will behave differently during the spawn. Males and females will not eat while they are on beds which is why the pre-spawn is a good time to go fishing because they will feed aggressively. When the spawn finally begins, a Bass may not eat until they transition to their Summer deep pools.
When do Bass Bed
People like to think that all Bass spawn at the same time, but that is not the case. Bass spawn in waves. Bass start to make their beds and lay eggs on beds once the water temperature hits around 60 degrees. This happens during different times of the year depending on where you are in the country.
Bass will bed multiple times a year due to cold fronts and water temps dropping and increasing in the spring time. This means you have a pretty big window to catch spawning bass.
Where do Bass Spawn
Bass spawn in shallow hard bottoms. The water depth can range anywhere between 1ft-6ft, but in extreme cases they can spawn in water as deep at 12ft and as shallow as 10 inches. They will normally spawn in hard bottoms like hard-packed sand, pea-gravel, or clay.
How Long do Bass Stay on Their Beds
Female Bass will stay on a bed for as long as it takes her to lay her eggs. She may linger a bit, but normally this is about half a day or so. Male Bass will stay on a bed after a female lays her eggs until the Bass fry hatch and are old enough to swim and hid to protect themselves. In optimal conditions this is 2-3 days.
Bass will all use the same beds throughout the same spawning season. If you come back a week later and see a Bass on a bed you caught one on last time you were there, it might not be the same Bass.
How to Catch Bass on Their Beds
Catching Bass on their beds can be rewarding and extremely frustrating. You are trying to make a fish go against its instincts and stop protecting its eggs and eat your lure. The name of the game is to either annoy the fish until it strikes or make it think you’re a predator fishing looking to eat its eggs.
Bed Fishing for Bass
To catch spawning Bass, you’re going to have to bed fish. Bed fishing is where you focus on catching a bass from their bed or nest. This can be very slow fishing, but can lead to some PBs fish.
Typically when you are bed fishing you are trying to annoy the Bass and trigger them into striking your lure. Now during the spawn Bass are not actively feeding and will just grab your lure or swat it away. Because of this compact lures are usually your best bet.
Best Bed Fishing Baits
The best baits for bed fishing are compact, small, but visible to you from the bank or boat. Typically if you are bed fishing you are most likely going to be using white colored lures because they are easy for you to see. Below are a few lures and techniques that I suggest you try when you go bed fishing.
Soft Plastic Craw or Creature Bait
A good soft plastic craw is necessary when bed fishing. A good set up is a weighted Texas Rig with a peg so the weight stays close to the hook and bait. This makes it so when you are dragging the craw across the bed the appendages or claws float in the water.
Pitch this lure out past your target bed and then slowly drag it into the Bass’ bed. Give it some light twitches or just let it set there. The point is to make the Bass look at the lure and either be annoyed with the bait or think it’s a predator.
My favorite craw is the 6th Sense Stroker Craw. The claws have good action and the bait size is perfect for a 3/0 hook. Even if the bass tries to pick it up and move it out the way, there is a good chance it will get hooked because of the size.
A finesse jig is another great lure and fished the same way as the craw or creature bait. Slowly drag it across the bed and trigger a strike from a Bass. I like a finesse jig because the skirt will flair out as you twitch it giving it a slightly bigger profile.
My Favorite Finesse Jig is the Strike King Bitsy Bug. It’s small and versatile. Comes in a wide range of different colors and you can find them almost anywhere. I’ll use a small softbait craw or minnow as a trailer to get some added action.
A ned rig is another favorite. The profile is small and compact and can be dragged along the bottom just like a finesse jig or craw. Your standard ned rig is a small 3 inch stick bait or worm on a mushroom shaped ned head. This slimmed down profile is a good option when Bass seem lock jawed.
A good ned rig head is the Mule Jig from Mule Fishing They come in a variety of colors so you can select a highly visible color option.
A great soft plastic to pair it with is a Z-Man Finesse TRD. It’s durable and it floats so the tail will stay upright in the water and keep the hook pointed up.
Drop Shot Rig
A drop shot rig is also a great bed fishing bait. Unlink the other three lures, you don’t drag this one on the bed itself. A drop shot rig keeps the lure suspended. It is a small wire hook with a weight tied underneath it. How far a weight is below the hook depends on the depth of water you are fishing in. In the case of bed fishing, this could be a few inches.
You want to use a drop shot rig to bed fish when a Bass refuses to lower itself to pick up or bite a lure at the bottom of the bed. Suspending this lure right in front of it’s face can be enough to trigger a bite.
For lures I like the Z-Man Trick Shotz. They are durable and float and have a ton of action. I like the durability of ElaZtech because if you’re getting a lot of short strikes, the bait will last longer than your standard soft plastic.
You can use any kind of drop shot weight here, but I like the Tear Drop Monsterbass Tungsten Drop Shot Weights. They are pretty affordable and super sensitive. I recommend you start off as small as possible and then work your way up if you need to.
Is Bed Fishing Bad For Bass Populations
There is a ton of debate on whether or not we should be fishing during the spawn. The argument against fishing for Bass on beds is that you are disrupting the spawning process and as a result, harming the future population of Bass.
However, studies have shown that anglers have very little effect on the Bass population during the spawn. A report released by the University of Florida states that bed fishing has limited harm on the individual bass beds, but however it does not have a negative affect on the population as a whole. The fact of the matter is we just aren’t good enough to catch enough Bass to harm the population. Whether or not you should fish for bass on bed or catch spawning Bass is going to be up to the individual angler.
Catching Bass During the Spawn
Whether you’re new to the sport or a seasoned angler who knows their local pond inside and out, I hope this post has given you some new info to catch spawning bass. If you’re interested in catching Bass in the early spring check out this post on the best early spring bass lures.
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